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Gee's Bend Quilts, a creative vision!

Jun '07
Gee's Bend Quilts and Beyond takes an in-depth look at the creative vision of a master quilt-maker, Mary Lee Bendolph, and the intersecting artistic worlds in which she participates.

This exhibit examines Bendolph's inspiration and creative process as well as her profound connection to the cultural practices and expressive traditions from which her work arises. In making her quilts, Bendolph tears discarded clothing into simple strips and blocks of fabric.

Her quilts, both highly refined and geometric, are remarkable for their creativity, in contrast to prescribed quilt making traditions seen elsewhere in the country. What is most impressive about Bendolph's striking quilts is that she did not consider them works of art, rather they were a necessity to keep out the cold winter weather, for the bed and as insulation on the walls.

She drew her inspiration for these quilts from everyday life; her back yard, a barn, or a person. The strips of fabric from worn clothes did serve as memorials for the individual who wore those clothes. She tried to imbue in her quilts of recycled clothing the difficult and impoverished life the residents in Gee's Bend lived.

Her early quilts were not influenced by any outsider as the white population of Camden, Alabama, the closest large city to Gee's Bend, cut the ferry service to Camden. This prevented black residents from across the river from participating in the civil rights actions taking place in Camden inthe 60s. Ferry service has just recently been restored.

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